Unabated heavy rains have caused outbreaks of pneumonia, bronchitis and malaria in the Three Pagodas Pass (TPP) Township along the Thailand-Burma border.

Ta Done Village, which is 18 miles from TPP, has only about 100 houses but 70 people are suffering from pneumonia and bronchitis, according to a human rights activist who just visited the village.

“Most of the patients suffering from pneumonia and bronchitis are children. Before they used to get free medical treatment but now they have to pay half the fee for medical care because after MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) left, the hospital cannot afford free medical treatment,” said Mi Jarai Non.

MSF, also known as Doctors without Borders, had been working with the New Mon State Party (NMSP) since 1994 to help Internally Displaced Persons, Mon refugees and others affected by civil war in Burma.

However, at the end of 2005, MSF stopped providing medical treatment in border areas inhabited by Mon people and gave hospitals enough drugs to last six months.

Ta Done hospital was previously supported by MSF but now they have almost run out of medicines so they collect some money from patients to buy drugs, said a medic, who declined to be identified.

Other hospitals in Pliy Ja-Pan village (Japanese well village) and Hlockhani village, near the Thai-Burma border, which MSF used to support are also struggling to get medical supplies.

“In our hospital, 30 percent of the patients are suffering from pneumonia and bronchitis, the rest have colds and malaria,” said a medic in Pliy Ja-Pan village near Three Pagodas Pass.

The hospitals are run by the NMSP.

“People are suffering from pneumonia and bronchitis because it has been raining for a month and many people are catching cold while working in the forest. Children are also catching cold and are getting pneumonia and bronchitis,” said Nai Lyi Ta-moe, a medic in Hlockhani hospital.

Heavy downpour caused three floods in the border areas in the last month as well as in Mon state, especially in Ye Township, something which has not happened for more than a decade.

As yet, no patients have died of pneumonia or bronchitis in the affected border areas, the medic from Pliy Ja-Pan village said.